5 Most Common Massey Ferguson 231 Problems and Effective Fixes

The Massey Ferguson 231 is a reliable and rugged compact utility tractor with a 3-cylinder, 2.5-liter diesel engine producing 38HP.

It’s powerful enough for light hauling, landscaping, and small-scale agricultural tasks like plowing, tilling, and harrowing. Despite its immense versatility, the MF 231 isn’t without its drawbacks. The most common Massey Ferguson 231 problems are failure to crank, problematic steering, hydraulic issues, low engine output, and transmission issues.

Below is a detailed dissection of the above problems and how to fix them. Let’s get started.

Diesel Engine Doesn’t Crank

It’s common for the MF 231’s engine to fail to crank. This happens because of various reasons, including:

A dead battery: The diesel engine won’t crank if the battery doesn’t have the power to bring it to life. Use a voltmeter to check the battery for voltage. If the battery is dead, use a battery charger or jump starter to revive it.

Insufficient fuel: Check the fuel levels of your Massey Ferguson 231 and refill the fuel tank if it’s empty.

Cold temperature: The diesel engine sometimes fails to start because the external temperature is too low. The cold temperature thickens the oil, causing engine drag. Use an engine heater to warm the engine and get it running again.

Air in the fuel lines: Air inside the fuel line prevents the flow of fuel to the engine and prevents it from starting. Bleeding the fuel lines will solve the issue, but check for cracks in the fuel lines or gaps that may allow air inside.

Low Engine Output

Power loss is one of the most frustrating Massey Ferguson 231 problems.

The MF 231’s engine can produce up to 38 hp when in proper working condition. However, most Massey Ferguson 231 owners have complained about poor engine output. This issue occurs when the tractor starts up fine but lacks power during operation.

The main reasons for the power loss in Massey Ferguson 231 tractors are:

Clogged or Extremely Dirty Air Filters

A clogged or dirty air filter decreases engine efficiency, thus increasing fuel consumption. While a tractor with clogged filters still runs, it’ll have poor acceleration and low engine power.

That’s because the sludge and debris in the filters constrict the amount of air entering the engine, compromising its performance.

The easiest and best way to solve this issue is to replace the clogged and dirty filters. Cleaning them is pointless since you’ll have to replace them after a little while.

Carburetor Issues

Problems with the MF 231’s carburetor could lead to low engine output. Check whether the carburetor’s choke is closed.

A closed choke limits the air entering the engine, leading to poor engine performance. Besides opening the choke, try adjusting the float settings and governor linkage and check the diaphragms and gasket sequence for damage. Make the proper adjustments and replace damaged parts to maintain engine power.

Old Fuel

Old, stale fuel is incredibly detrimental to your MF 231’s engine performance. Old gas in the tanks turns gummy after about six months and clogs the tractor’s filters. This clogging disrupts proper airflow into the engine, compromising its performance.

Empty any old fuel and replace it with fresh fuel. You can also consider using a fuel stabilizer, which extends the lifespan of the tractor’s fuel.

Massey Ferguson 231 Power Steering Problems

Steering issues are among the most dangerous Massey Ferguson 231 problems. Symptoms of this issue include an abnormally tight or loose steering wheel.

Sometimes steering issues have little to do with the steering wheel. You could have underinflated tires that are difficult to control. If the tires are properly inflated, the problem is likely with the steering and hydraulic system.

If the power steering stops working after a few minutes of driving, check the oil level in the tank and refill it if low. Next, check the O-rings outside the steering valve assembly for wear or damage. Replace them if worn out or damaged. You can also replace the power steering housing to be on the safe side.

A popping sound when turning the steering means you have a worn put pinion. The pinion steering system deteriorates with time and then moves around and causes a popping sound when it pops around the frame. The only solution for this issue is to replace the pinion.

Problems With the Hydraulic System

The hydraulic system of the MF 231 is prone to issues with continued use. Most hydraulic system issues occur because of clogged filters. These clogs preclude the proper flow of hydraulic fluid, leading to overheating and hurting the hydraulic pump’s efficiency. Replacing the filters will solve this issue.

Sometimes, air enters the hydraulic system leading to cavitation, abnormal actuator movements, and foaming.

The air inside the hydraulic system accelerates the degradation of parts from overheating, loss of lubrication, and wearing out of seals.

Internal leakage in the MF 231’s hydraulic system can lead to severe tractor damage. This internal leakage leads to overheating, which decreases the hydraulic fluid’s viscosity and increases leakage. This creates an endless cycle that ultimately leads to engine failure. Address leaks in the hydraulic system before they get out of hand.

Transmission Shifting Issues

The MAF 231 should allow seamless shifting from one gear to another. However, many owners have complained about hard shifting issues.

Hard transmission shifting mostly results from a lack of lubrication, but if the problem persists after lubrication, you could have a problem with the transmission itself.

The problem could be with the gears or the drive belt. In either case, it’s important to consult an experienced mechanic to help with the issue. Transmission problems are complex, and repairing them yourself could exacerbate the issue.

Don’t Give up on Your Massey Ferguson 231

Admittedly, most of the common Massey Ferguson 231 problems are downright frustrating. But don’t dispose of your MF 231 just yet. Most of the issues mentioned above are easy and relatively inexpensive to fix. Plus, you can always hire a professional mechanic to help you out with these issues. Don’t sell or dispose of your MF 231 before you try the above fixes.